Not every family story is a good one. Not every day as a parent is easy. No kids are always charming. And no mother handles every situation perfectly. We just cross our fingers and hope that most days are good, our children grow up to be kind and happy, and we don’t screw everything up by losing it on the days when they are really, really bad.
My five year old pushed me to my limit yesterday with a series of unacceptable behaviors. We were at his best friend’s birthday party, where he (1) pooped in his pants, (2) yelled at me when I threw his poopy underpants in the trash, (3) stole the toy Smurf off the birthday cake and made the birthday boy cry, then (4) punched me in the face so hard that the entire room gasped.
It didn’t end there.
After I made him leave the party early as a punishment (and yelled more than I care to admit in the parking lot), he unbuckled his seatbelt while we drove 60 miles per hour down the highway, screaming, “I won’t buckle it until you take me back to the party!”
I ceased to acknowledge his existence.
As we pulled into the garage, he re-buckled his seatbelt and refused to get out of the car, where he remained for 30 minutes calling into the house that I was not invited to his birthday party.
Like I want to go.
So what did I do? Still without a word to him, I carried him upstairs the second he walked into the house, and stuck him in a warm bath. Not only did it calm him, but remember, he still smelled of poop.
More than an hour passed between dragging him out of the party and him – bathed and dressed in clean clothes – telling me, with a hug, that he was sorry.
I have never been so mad at a child in my life, and I have three boys who have their ups and downs, good days and bad.
Maybe he will be the one who always pushes me to the end of patience, the one who I bail out of jail at 3a.m. one cold December morning a dozen years from now. Or maybe he will always think twice, remembering how he missed his best friend’s birthday cake because one day, when he was five, he was really, really naughty.